How long Theresa May will remain in Number 1o has become the million pound question in British politics. It is a genuinely perplexing one for which no one has the answer. I don’t either, incidentally – but I think going over the possibilities is worth the time.
One is that she stays on until spring/summer of 2019. In other words, for the whole of the Brexit negotiation period (or at least, what could become known as the initial Brexit negotiation period). This option has several advantages: one, it steadies the ship and gives the Tories time to recover and for Corbyn to screw up and then Labour disunity to rear its head again. Two, whatever goes wrong with the negotiations can be laid at her door as much as possible. Three, it allows the Tories to consider a younger, fresher choice for the next leader as opposed to having to be reliant on who they have in the cabinet now, to which the words “young” and “fresh” do not apply.
Another possibility is that she hangs around until party conference and bows out then. This has the advantage of steadying the ship a little and then handing over to someone with the maximum possible time for them to build a rapport with the public.
These two seem the most likely to me; and I can’t decide which is more likely, so I’ll leave it at 50:50 for now.
There are a few less likely but not entirely discountable possibilities that remain. One is that she goes in the next few weeks. I think this unlikely since it would be very risky for the Tories. The other is that she stays for another four years, stepping aside in 2021 to allow a new leader to bed in ahead of the 2022 general election. Again, this probably won’t happen due to the risk involved, in this instance allowing for the possibility that Theresa May might have to suddenly fight another election if the government came crashing down. The Tories will be keen to avoid this for reasons I shouldn’t have to elaborate upon.